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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Pres Steyn turns pink in anticipation of Vryfees
2014-06-06

Video clip
Live streaming
 

Australian artist Cigdem Aydemir vacuum packed the Pres Steyn monument on the Bloemfontein Campus’s Red Plain – in pink. Aydemir’s project, ‘Plastic Histories’, forms part of a public art project that encourages us to evaluate public monuments in their historical context. 

By vacuum packing monuments, Aydemir alludes to their significance and preservation. At the same time, though, it reveals the nature of their contentious and gendered historical function. This is because most monuments in post-colonial countries typically celebrate men’s achievements in serving their nations.

In response, this project acknowledges the contribution of women from all races, communities and sexual orientations to the grand narrative of a post-apartheid South Africa.

Aydemir is also developing an app in collaboration with Australian artist Warren Armstrong. This will be used for augmented reality viewing of three city monuments – those of President Brand, General De Wet and General Hertzog. This means that visitors will be able to hold a smart phone or iPad in front of the monuments and view the monuments as if vacuum packed in pink plastic.

In conjunction with the public art project there will be an exhibition of digitally manipulated photographs of nineteen-century and contemporary male monuments in Bloemfontein. These photos will be exhibited at the Johannes Stegmann Gallery at the UFS Sasol Library from 15 July – 1 August 2014.

Public tours on the Bloemfontein Campus and into the city will take place on:

• Tuesday 15 July at 11:00,
• Wednesday 16 July at 14:00, and
• Saturday 19 July at 11:00.

Aydemir’s ‘Plastic Histories’ public art project is part of the UFS Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD) and the Vryfees arts festival’s partnership with the Australian-based SituateArt in Festivals initiative. This partnership is managed by the Salamanca Arts Centre in Tasmania. 

Read more articles about this project:

POZIBLE launch (pdf document)
Media release: 17 June 2014: Art Stars Revealed (pdf document)
PIAD/PIKO - http://bit.ly/1gazQTV
OPENLab - http://bit.ly/1hzguUG
CAD Forum - http://bit.ly/1sNvtRB


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